Systems Thinking (& Why Business Schools Must Change)

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commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yamaha_OX10A_engine_rear.jpg (cc 3.0)

One day while research-surfing, I came across this set of Youtube lecture clips by Russell Ackoff on the topic of Systems Thinking. Ackoff was brilliant.

Among many fascinating ideas in this particular clip, Ackoff talks about the role of analysis (taking apart) and synthesis (putting together). He argues that analysis can never lead to understanding, because systems only gain their functional properties as a result of the interaction of their parts.

Therefore, pulling apart a system (such as a car) into its parts does not really yield a better understanding of the car. In fact, the “car” ceases to exist. What we end up with from analysis (taking apart) is a bunch of component parts.

The way to truly understand a system, such as a business (or a car), is to abstract the system to a higher level. Only when we understand the context in which a system operates will we be able to understand the system.